True to my intentions to learn how to cook, I started off today with a fairly simple recipe: Mac and Cheese with Polish Sausage from The Most Decadent Diet Ever by Devin Alexander. I figure you can't go wrong with pasta and there were few enough ingredients that the recipe wasn't intimidating. But, like all my past cooking attempts, I did have to go into a bit of a production before I started cooking.
For one thing, I had to go buy ingredients since I literally had none of them in the house. So off to Trader Joe's I went. Fortunately, Devin Alexander also seems to be a TJ's disciple and I was able to find all the ingredients easily enough. I even planned ahead to the next several recipes I'd be cooking from her book and stocked up on those too - imagine that. Then I had to invest in a few cooking gadgets/utensils I don't have so a few simple recipes added up to more $$s than any person could reasonably expect. However, I'm trying not to be a flash in the pan (haha) with this cooking thing so I'm looking on these purchases as an investment and that I won't automatically be defaulting to TJ's ready-made Chicken Tikka Masala so quickly. I even bought a meat mallet for an upcoming Chicken Piccata recipe and I envision using it on future occasions, you know - on meat.
Anyway, back to the Mac and Cheese. This was easy enough even for my limited cooking skills. The biggest pain was grating the block of light cheddar cheese but even that wasn't a big deal. The cheese melted easily enough in the pot but once I had everything mixed up and was portioning it out into single serving sizes, the cheese seemed rather stringy. And cleaning up the pot was a huge pain in the arse since the cheese didn't really want to come off. That's what you get with low-fat cheese, I guess. As for the dish itself, it tasted okay. The kielbasa added nice flavor to it but overall, this dish was pretty bland. And I followed the recipe faithfully so for once, it wasn't me or my screw up. I think I'll add a bit more salt and some pepper to the rest of the servings to try to liven it up. I've already said I have bland taste buds so when even I find something bland, you know it's really bland.
4 ounces extra-lean kielbasa or smoked turkey sausage (3 grams of fat or less per 2-ounce serving)
1 cup dried elbow macaroni
2 teaspoons unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ cup fat-free milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 ½ ounces (1 ¾ cups) finely shredded Cabot’s 75% Light Cheddar cheese or your favorite low-fat Cheddar
1. Bring a medium pot of lightly salted water to a full boil.
2. Cut the sausage into ¼-inch-thick slices.
3. Add the macaroni and the sausage to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the macaroni is cooked al dente, about 5 minutes. (It should still have a bit of bite to it.) Drain.
4. Meanwhile, mix the flour with just enough milk to form a paste in a small bowl. Slowly add the remaining milk, stirring as you do, making sure to remove any lumps. Place a medium saucepan over medium heat. Pour the milk mixture into the saucepan. Stir in the salt. Add the cheese and continue to stir the mixture with a wooden spoon until the cheese is completely melted and the mixture starts to thicken. When the mixture is almost smooth, stir in the cooked macaroni and sausage until it is well incorporated. Serve immediately.